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Keywords:

  • infection control;
  • nurses;
  • nursing;
  • theatres

Aims.  To examine the relationship on knowledge, attitudes and practice levels of operating room staff towards the standard precautions and transmission-based precautions, and to identify profiles of them based on their demographic variables and their knowledge, attitudes and practices towards the standard precautions and the transmission-based precautions.

Research method.  During January 2006, 113 staff working in the operating room of a public hospital completed a self-reported questionnaire.

Outcome measures.  Demographic information, knowledge, attitudes and practices scores were collected.

Results.  Two-step cluster analysis yielded two clusters. Clusters 1 and 2 consisted of 50·4% (n = 57) and 49·6% (n = 56), respectively. Cluster 1 subjects were younger, had a higher educational attainment level and worked at a more senior level than Cluster 2 subjects. They reported good knowledge, positive attitudes and practices. Cluster 2 subjects were characterized by relatively poor knowledge, negative attitudes and practices. Significant differences towards standard and transmission-based precautions were found between clusters, except attitudes towards choosing protective personal equipment (p = 0·095) and practices on wearing gowns and eye shields/goggles (p = 0·759). Attitudes of Cluster 2 staffs were highly significant, but weakly correlated with practices (rs = 0·39, p < 0·05).

Conclusion.  This study clearly profiles knowledge, attitudes and practice patterns of operating room staff, which may benefit healthcare educators in planning and developing appropriate educational programmes, may help organizations to provide a safe workplace climate and may aid healthcare workers to learn the importance of personal responsibility in preventing infectious disease transmission to patients, co-workers and even themselves.

Relevance to clinical practice.  To date, the only protection against infection is to minimize risk by modifying behaviour and practice patterns. Education and communication play a major role of the precautions. Tailoring interventions to fit different specific groups of operating room staff is needed to improve compliance with the standard and transmission-based precautions.